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As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, will Brexit1 give way to new UK laws or new GB laws or just new laws and policies in England & Wales?

Although the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (aka the Brexit deal as announced on Xmas Eve) excludes financial services, those who work in the financial services sector (the UK’s biggest export industry and arguably largest taxpayer) planned for whatever would happen, by establishing legal entities in Frankfurt and Amsterdam. It should be no surprise that banks employ some of the most creative, intelligent, and well- paid lawyers on the planet.

When the European Banking Federation first met after the Brexit referendum, and voted 27 to 1 in favour of maintaining a single market in financial services, it was the French Banking Association that voted against. With the UK no longer around, there will be an end to new EU rules that make the EU financial services less competitive compared to London. For the UK, this is now an opportunity to set out our own clear strategy as the leading global financial services sector. EU banking business may target London, but unlike London, they will not so easily be able to target markets beyond the EU. Rishi Sunak, has already unilaterally granted EU equivalence status to EU financial services operating in the UK but the EU has said it will consider whether it will grant equivalence to UK financial services, making it easier for UK based institutions to serve customers in the EU.

This provides an interesting contrast to the game plans that will apply to other much smaller UK industries, such as the waste sector. The financial services sector clearly needed to plan well ahead and the Treasury has no doubt spent many long hours planning for the future, but this does not mean that Defra has similarly prepared for life after the EU. However, before jumping to conclusions about whether new laws and policies that affect waste and the environment, will be enacted on the hoof, it would be wise to stop and think.

WHY did Defra decide to introduce The Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations (“CE Regs”) in August this year (they came into force on the 1st October 2020)? WHY the urgency, WHY the rush? The regulations take their name from the 2018 EU Directive that had to be introduced into EU Member State laws by July 2020. Bringing the CE Regs before parliament, just one month after the EU deadline, is surely significant? If so, the scope of the CE Regs is even more significant? This is not just a single piece of legislation to enact the circular economy objectives and all of that good stuff about reusing materials or recycling more waste.